Time management is not my best attribute. Not by a long shot. I’m a procrastinator. I’ve got ideas – great ideas – but I have a hard time with execution. I get overwhelmed with larger goals.
I know I‘m not alone.
These traits or flaws – whatever you want to call them – are reinforced if we never see our ideas actually turn into something. As creative people, we are often caught between the reality of having to make money and staying financially afloat at the cost of our creativity. I discuss this a lot on my podcast Tip Your Server.
Finding the time to pursue your passion can be extremely difficult when you need to make rent, pay off student loans, cover that dog surgery, finally get around to your ridiculously high LADWP bill, and every other cost of living expense. It feels especially true in a city like LA, where avocado toast seems to go up two dollars every year (it’s just bread and avocado!). It can be hard to find time to focus on the things that make you tick when you’ve got to worry about a roof over your head.
Personally, I know my creativity has suffered because of this. I was always chasing day jobs to make sure I could stay and pursue my career in writing, comedy, and podcasting. I would beat myself up for not doing enough, for sometimes prioritizing the day jobs and being exhausted from those day jobs, sacrificing time for my creative projects.
After being in LA nearly 10 years, I can say that I’ve gotten a little better. A little. But there is always room for growth. I’m constantly learning about my creative process, about what works for me and what will make me the most productive. I’ve discovered that I need to wake up early to get my day going and make time in my mornings for working on my own projects. This took nearly 10 years to figure out!
I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress. We all are. A few years ago, if you told me I would feel more productive if I woke up at 6am instead of 9am, I would have told you to fuck right off, thank you very much. I was NOT a morning person.
Maybe I just needed to get older and stop working nights, which finally happened a few years ago. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily super productive every single morning. Sometimes it’s just answering emails. But I developed a morning routine that worked, which included exercise, meditation, and working towards goals.
Not too long ago, I hit a wall. I felt like I had these great morning rituals that got me focused, but executing goals was still somehow a struggle, my progress stagnate. Enter my friend Jeremy.
Those of you reading this probably know Jeremy and are perhaps familiar with his tenacity, focus, and drive, his ability to get things done and achieve goals, small and large. I’ve always admired this in him. Through it all, even in the toughest of times with adversity at every corner, he also manages to keep a positive attitude and is able to accept things as they come. I always felt derailed at the slightest hardship, ready to throw up my hands and say “I give up.” Not so with Jeremy. I wanted what he had.
Just a few weeks ago, Jeremy and I sat down and he told me point blank, “I’m going to help you.” He‘s helped me in so many ways up to this point. Recently he gave me the opportunity to run his podcast studio The Gum, which has been a huge inspiration and source of joy for me. Even with a thousand things on his plate, he took the time to sit with me and map out what I was working on. Not just projects, but also everything else I had going on in my life that I considered a priority and needed to allocate time towards. Everything from conversations with friends and family to extracurricular activities (exercise, social outings, etc.).
I had never actually done that. I had never taken the time to evaluate and put on paper what was important to me, what I actually wanted to spend my time working on and how much time I wanted to give to it realistically. How much did I want to dedicate myself to certain projects and goals? We then put a point value of up to 100 points, where points basically account for hours spent in a week. For my podcast Tip Your Server, I gave it 15 points. Writing in general, 10 points. TV watching 2 points, yoga 7 points, and on down the list.
Just writing down my activities was eye-opening enough, but it also showed me where I had been focusing my time versus where I really wanted to give my time. It made me assess where I wanted to focus more and where I needed to make some sacrifices if I wanted to start reaching some of my creative goals and break down that wall I was hitting.
It’s been a game changer. Though it’s only been a few weeks and though I may not be exact when it comes to my time management, I am more focused. I’m noticing where I’m actually spending my time and how that’s affecting my progress. I now have a map to follow, but the beauty is that the map can change, it’s ever evolving and shifts with my own goals.
So for everyone out there who’s working towards larger goals but feels lost in day jobs, you owe it to yourself to do this simple exercise.
Grab a pen and paper.
Write down the things you love and what you want to spend your time on.
Using a 100 point system, give each thing you love a point value. How much do you want to spend on that thing? Be realistic.
Honestly, that’s about it. You’ve just created your road map to reaching goals and becoming more focused.
Simple but radical. And definitely not boring.
Sometimes it’s the simplest things we forget to do in the race for achievement. Try it. See what happens. What have you got to lose?
Thank you Jeremy!